We will always be

AYF-YOARF Senior Seminar 2021. AYF members are holding an Artsakh flag which was salvaged from the region of Karavajar right before it was handed over to the Azeris. This flag will be flying proudly over the ANCA office in DC until the day we can proudly take it back home.

The AYF-YOARF is the greatest youth organization ever. The opportunities, the education and the spirit of this organization are unmatched. This year’s AYF-YOARF Senior Seminar was no exception. As a first time participant, I had no idea what we were going to experience, but this seminar completely surpassed my expectations. From flag raising, to insightful lecturers, to long nights around the fire pit singing each word of our history through “heghapokhagan” songs, one thing became certain… Մենք միշտ կանք։ 

As I stood in the AYF Camp Haiastan cabin circle in front of the statue of Karekin Nejdeh early Saturday morning with AYF members from across the east coast and some from the west witnessing the raising of our three most precious flags (Armenia, Artsakh and the ARF), I felt an overwhelming sense of bliss. There is an unbreakable unity that is created when our members come together and sing “Mshag Panvor” and “Mer Hairenik” with pride. The passion in our voices can move mountains, and the vibrations we produced when calling the seminar to order really put into perspective the power we hold when unifying around our priceless cause. 

The Central Senior Seminar Committee, along with AYF members who contributed to organizing and lecturing, provided our youth with intensely captivating and ideologically aligned educationals. Investing in Armenia, archaeology and genealogy, Hai Tahd, the Zinyal Baykar period, the direction of the ARF in today’s Armenia and language are just some examples of topics that were addressed by our remarkable AYF/ARFers from the eastern region. One lecture that really struck a note was Yeghisapet Chouldjian’s Lessons of Sardarabad, during which she empowered our youth to think about our Sardarabad moment, meaning what we can contribute to the homeland, to our organization and to the future of our cause. Each and every educational was extremely valuable in its own way because as we have proven time and time again, knowledge is power. When we invest in ourselves and in our youth, we will inevitably be investing in our nation, our homeland and our cause. 

Ultimately, after an incredibly disheartening year, the fire inside each of my fellow AYF members is what truly warmed my spirits. With our immortal heroes in mind, each night we spent some time gathered around the fire singing songs which tell the stories of our brave brothers and sisters. We spent time discussing the history of the songs and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We remembered those who died for victory in an existential fight, an unfair fight, a fight whose fate was predetermined by the current traitorous Armenian government. We honored those 5,000 souls to whom we will forever be indebted. 

Around that magnetic light each night, we would sing, talk and speak the future of our cause into existence. Sitting by the warm flames was where we would give and take motivation, insight and ideas about how to better our chapters, our region, our people as a whole. That flame burns eternally inside each and everyone of us. I feel privileged to have experienced the passion and the inspiring spirit of my fellow AYF members at the 2021 AYF-YOARF Senior Seminar. Thank you to all those who spent endless nights planning and preparing this moving seminar. For as long as we come together around our cause of a free, independent and united Armenia, our flame will never die եւ միշտ պիտի մնանք։

Galy Jackmakjian

Galy Jackmakjian

Galy Jackmakjian has been an active member of the AYF-YOARF Washington DC "Ani" Chapter. She has also served many leadership roles in the HMEM DC Chapter throughout her life. Galy is currently serving on the AYF Eastern Region's Central Armenian Language Council, as language and Armenian preservation are one of her many passions.

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